Wednesday, August 01, 2018

It’s the Waiting, Stupid

I had a call with the social worker today; she asked me how things were going, if there had been any notable changes, how I’m handling the waiting.

Things are fine, I said. During the informational session the group was told that the adoption process could take as little as a few months or go on for a couple of years. All along I’ve been thinking it would take 2 years so that I’ve been waiting for seven months doesn’t trouble me. Tricks, they’re not just for kids. “It’s only been 7 months. I still have a year and a half to go!” It helps.

Where it doesn’t help, however, is in the job situation. It’s a fine enough job but it doesn’t keep the brain engaged like I would like. The old job - that was something else towards the end. The stress and anxiety proved to be too much for me to handle; that said, I felt a certain amount of satisfaction about the responsibility that I’d worked up to, the autonomy I had to make decisions, to lead a team. Leaving that and taking the job I did, it was a conscious choice, it was a necessary break. But I also knew that the slower pace would soon go from being a blessing to a bit of a chore and sure enough, here I am.

It’s hard though, to think about searching for something more because when (if? when.) I have a child, being able to leave work at work, not having to worry that I’m leaving things undone because I’m focusing on raising a child, not having to think about work on the weekends, all of that will be not just welcomed but necessary. So this is where the waiting is hard. If I were pregnant there would be a clear timeline - “In 9 months I’ll need the flexibility! I can deal with the slow pace for a little while longer.”

So right now I just don’t know. Is it 3 months, 9 months, 18? A lot of time is spent at work; it’s hard to go from day to day when I feel like I’m operating at 50%.

But, as I said to the social worker, if this is my biggest problem then I’m doing okay.

I said to a friend recently, “it’s a privileged position to be in, to expect a job to give us fulfillment. It’s a luxury.” I need to remember that. So many people don’t get the opportunity to be troubled by sometimes being bored at work, they’re so busy just getting by. So, yes, it’s an embarrassment to complain. Definitely have to remember that.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Is Fat a Four Letter Word?

Were you ever skinny, the eight year old asked.

The brain is a wondrous thing isn’t it? As soon as she asked that question I thought back to what it was like being a chubby child in a culture that places so much value in thinness, in a culture where your nickname is “la gorda” (fat girl) and you can’t complain because it’s said with love! And even when it isn’t, if it really bothered you you’d do something about it. 

Where it doesn’t matter how nice your are or what good you do because those accomplishments will be brushed aside with pity and sadness as some supposedly well meaning aunt pats you on the arm and asks why you don’t take better care of yourself and warns you that you won’t find a man to love you if you’re fat. A culture and world where people treat gaining weight as one of the worst things that can happen to a person. A family where so many of the stories told about you seem to focus on the fatness.

I thought these things as I was clapping my hands and bopping around as we were waiting for the little girl’s father to take her home. I thought these things as I looked at her little chubby face, waiting for my response. I thought these things as I remembered hearing her 6 year old sister called “la flaquita” (the little thin one) and how her choices aren’t questioned as much as her older sister’s. I thought back to a week ago when, during a lesson, I asked the 6 year old for an example of a criticism. She quickly said to me, “You’re fat.” It starts so young, this judgement of our bodies. 

I think I have a good sense of what this little girl’s life is like and how she is made to feel.

I thought these things in the span of nano seconds and then I replied with an upbeat “nope!”

She smiled and hugged me as she said, “we’re the same!”

I hope we’re not. I hope she gets to grow up feeling better about herself. I hope she grows up knowing every day that the number on the scale doesn’t and shouldn’t at all dictate how she lives her life. I hope that if at some point she decides her chubbiness is something to work on she does it for herself and not because being thin will magically make things better because I gotta tell you I know some unhappy thin people.

If I had the opportunity to be in this little girl’s life for a longer period of time I’d probably have other lessons for her, other messages but in that moment I decided the best thing I could do for her was pretend that being fat has never bothered me.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

History is Made by the Historians

I’ve never been able to keep a diary, or, as the grown ups like to call them, a journal.

I’ve wanted to, that I know. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times I tried or how old I was when I bought the first diary but in the recesses of my mind, the poor beleaguered thing that my memory can often be, I have fuzzy visions of small, square, fat little notebooks, with delicate locks which, really, were only for show. I would crease the spines, date the page and write in my imperfectly messy round script the very important happenings that a little girl thinks to record. Each time I did this for a day, maybe two, perhaps a week but slowly, the blandness of my days would devour any desire to write. Of course, as I type that I stifle a cynical chuckle because, if you’ve read me for long enough, or if you know me well enough then you know that my childhood, well into my early teens, was full of chaos. But in between the cyclones of dysfunction, there was school, and then home, and then school and then home, and on and on.

Is it any wonder I quickly put aside the blank pages in favor of already full pages of stories from much more creative people than me, and chose to get lost in those stories?

Still, here I am at 45 years of age and I still have this wish that I had shelves - or probably more likely, boxes tucked away in some closet, of fat, little notebooks that graduated to more mature, grown up vehicles that stored my words.

Partly because my memory, as mentioned above, and on many entries previously, isn’t great. As recently as today I shared as much with a coworker - shortly after confessing that I sometimes forget words. Not names for that is a common enough thing but every day, common, simple words. Like ambulance, for example. Why this particular loss of memory should so stick with me I cannot say but I still distinctly remember, funnily enough, being in the car, driving to who knows where but I was doing something I often do - crafting a story, an entry. And I got to a point where I needed to think of the thing that takes you to the hospital. The vehicle with the flashing lights - no, not a police car, not a fire truck, that thing, damn it. The rest of the story went by the wayside as I struggled to pull that simple little thing from the brain only to come back with confusion and, okay, I’ll write it since I’m here, fear. When these moments happen there is always fear. “That isn’t good,” the coworker said, about the loss of memory. “I know,” I said. “But at this point, I’m dealing with about 25 years of poor sleep habits, chronic sleep deprivation and that’s gotta have taken a toll.”

But before this entry gets away from me and we go merrily down the path of a game I (and many others, I believe) like to play called “Is this a tumor? It’s not a tumor!” let me quickly go back to the point of this.

Our day to day matters. We may think not but it does. We’re not famous so who’ll care what we were doing, thinking, feeling on that Monday in May in 1995? Maybe no one else but ourselves but that’s enough. I truly believe that.

I was speaking with a new colleague a couple of weeks ago and she shared with me that with every new job she keeps a journal her first year on the job. Then, in the second year, she’ll go back and look at all the things she’s learned, the accomplishments, and, yes, even the “mistakes” so that she can assess how far she’s progressed, feel good about the things she did well and improve on the things she didn’t. I appreciate that level of introspection, of the constant learning and the desire for personal growth. I love that she recognizes the power of journaling.

A week ago, while listening to a new podcast (Making Oprah), well, new to me as it ran a couple of years ago, Oprah was asked what she was thinking and feeling when she got the opportunity to start her show. She didn’t have to rely on memory; she simply went to her journal for that year, that fateful day of and read her entry. It wasn’t earth shattering. It’s not as if she forecasted the empire she would build but just the sheer ability to say, “Here, let me turn to that page and tell you exactly what I wrote that day” - that moment is powerful to me.

And maybe that’s my vanity. Maybe that’s my ego. The belief that my words matter but I think it’s checked somewhat by the fact that I’m not saying my journal would matter to anyone else. It’s not as if I think my ramblings will do anything but maybe mildly entertain me in my old age. But I do think, in an age when facts and truths are being rewritten on a nearly hourly basis, maybe each of us writing down our own stories, our own histories, is a small step to keeping things on an even keel.

Or maybe it’s just me liking the sound of the keys as I type into the abyss. Only time will tell.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Powerless

I’ve been reading Overeaters Anonymous lately. If you know me at all, or have been following me online, you know some things about me. One, I’m fat. Have been pretty much all of my life. If you’ve had the good fortune to hang out with me, you know I’m ridiculously picky about what I eat. To the point that a few people - though they’ve been polite enough not to say it but I’ve gotten pretty good at reading minds - have wondered how I can be fat when I don’t seem to enjoy food much.

Well, it’s the emotions, stupid, as the saying goes. Somewhere along the way, a long long time ago, I learned food made the feelings disappear for a while. The problem is that the effects wouldn’t last long but for the brief moment when I was eating whatever tasty thing I had gotten my hands on, I could focus on that. On the tiny moment of feeling happy, in control. But the mind is a weird, curious thing, you know. Because pretty much the second I was done eating, the feelings of disgust, embarrassment, self-hate would kick in. So why, why, why have I spent decades doing this to myself?

i often say that we work our habits for a reason, good or bad, they do something for us. Human beings are creatures of habit, of selfishness. We like doing things that get us something, even the bad things. I’m a reasonably smart person but despite the time I’ve put into thinking about this problem ... of all the bad moments, the humiliations, the loneliness, disappointments - really any negative emotion fits here - that being fat has caused me, I can’t think of any positives that warrant decades of working such bad habits.

I read a book a few weeks ago, Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen, where the author writes about her epic binges.
Cover of Feast by Hanna Howard

In her bingeing habits, I saw parts of myself. From that book, I can’t remember why now, but I went online to look at the Overeaters Anonymous program. I even looked to see if there are meetings in the area. I need to do something; I’m unsure of what I need, so I thought maybe this would be something. But, and I know I’m not the first person to go down this rabbit hole, all of the mentions of God in the steps are just such a deterrent. I have a problem with food. I don’t have a problem saying that. I’ve been saying that for a while now. But to start reaching out to god for help, when for all intents and purposes I’ve been an atheist since my pre-teens, man, that’s a hard pill to swallow. And I know, I’ve seen enough TV shows and movies that it’s supposed to be god as I understand him, but even that little disclaimer or workaround does nothing for me.

So I don’t know where that leaves me. I’m working through the OA books, I’m writing this which isn’t all that fun but I figure it might be something. I’m sharing with a couple of friends the stuff I’m eating and feeling in an attempt to stop hiding from myself. In terms of the theory of change, I’m probably solidly in the contemplation phase. Well, maybe moving more towards determination.

Stages of Change model

I like routine, I like habits. So creating structure and setting up my environment to facilitate the implementation of these new habits seems like a good place to start. The rest, well, who knows. One day at a time, right? Isn’t that the way this is supposed to work?

 


Monday, April 23, 2018

I was promised fame and fortune

I wasn’t, really, but the title popped into my head and I went with it.

Here is how my brain works sometimes.

Random question pops into my head.

Do I still own vain-girl.com? Remember the time when it was turned into a porn site and a friend thought to ask you if you were running it?

Instead of logging into godaddy to check, I click on over to whois.com because, this way I can both check to see if I own it again and what info is being shown if I do.

Once there, I type vain-girl.com in the wrong search box and I’m told it’s taken (okay, by whom? Me??) and do I want to buy vain-baby.com. Oooh. I do want vain-baby.com! How funny is that?!? But what would I use it for? Don’t be a goofball. You’ve spent the last year unloading unnecessary domains. Do not add another one.

Remember when, back in the 90s, people bought a crapton of simple domains in the hopes that some company would come along and want to pay a bazillion dollars for petrock.com (wait, hold on. Let’s check something. Yep, it’s actually a website selling pet rocks. Isn’t life grand?)? I never did fall into that trap but I did at one point own about 20+ domains simply because they were funny and I hated the thought of someone else owning them. Which is why I CANNOT get the idea of owning vain-baby out of my head now. Of course, with as many times as I’ve typed that now, it’ll get pulled into some search engine, some magical internet stuff will happen and the domain will be gone simply because it’s showed up three times in the last hour or something. I mean, I’m not really sure how the internet works except if I throw money at it sometimes boxes show up on my doorstep with clothes that I don’t need.

I’m sensing a theme here.

In other news, my budgeting habits need some reinforcing so this week is supposed to be a “DO NOT SPEND MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE ON THINGS YOU DO NOT NEED” week. I was doing okay until mid-day when I decided I needed a Coke. Grand scheme of things, spending a $1.25 isn’t awful and I have half of it left over for tomorrow, which is YUMMY, I know, right? Still. Baby steps. Damn it. There’s the B word again. Back to other news, this is also supposed to be “DON’T EAT STUFF YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EATING” week. Which, let’s face it, with my weight issues is really “DON’T EAT STUFF YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EATING” life but let’s not get bogged down on details. Today was kind of okay on that front. Not great but I did get out for a walk during lunch so all in all, this Monday was better than last Monday and some weeks that’s all a girl can ask for.

1 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

There must be away to turn this into a marketable skill

One day last week a coworker said to me, “you’re so good and fast at finding stuff.” This was after she mentioned a story she’d seen from Oprah on 60 Minutes (?) which she thought might interest me. In less than a minute I’d found the Oprah piece and the corresponding study and articles. Now, this isn’t terribly impressive as anything Oprah related is bound to be pretty easy to find but this is just another moment when my web search skills have been complimented. And I take a weird satisfaction in being able to hunt information down. I must have been a research librarian in a past life.

I mention this because I finally found something that I’ve been looking for for a while now. Not diligently mind you. Off and on when bored. I can’t even tell you why this has stuck in my head. Maybe it’s just that it proved to be so elusive and I can be stubborn. But today, I finally put in the right search terms and I found this sci-fi book I read in the 80s. Given how simple the terms were I’m amazed that it’s taken me years to track it down. (dudes. YEARS. If I dedicated this amount of focus to creating a new energy source I’m sure I’d be a gazillionaire by now. FACT.)

That this became a task for me is a mystery given that I don’t really have much interest in rereading the book. I do feel as if I should after the amount of time I’ve spent searching online for it. For now it’s enough to be able to say, “Yes! That’s the cover I remember!”

The Visitors cover

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I Think I’m Supposed to Hate Facebook

Now, hating Facebook isn’t a new thing. Hating Facebook is actually a requirement both for the people who use it and those that don’t it seems like. “It’s intrusive, it’s annoying, it enables people to share about all the stuff that no one gives one damn about!” Sheesh. Don’t you know? Well, now there’s even more of a reason to hate it. It allowed people the ability to use data in bad ways. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to care about that, to have feelings, strong ones.

But, truly, the only feelings I have about it all is passive guilt. Because, yes, I’m not living under a rock so I’m aware of what’s going on. I’ve seen a few folks delete their accounts or talk about deleting their accounts so it makes me think that I should be indignant about this. That I should care about the breach and on some level I suppose I do. I do wonder how all these words we’re putting out into the great void, all the data we share is used, for us, against us.

I can’t quite seem to build up the proper level of ire, however. Which doesn’t at all translate to a great love of the social networking site either. Over the last year, perhaps two, I seem to be using it less. Or I share fewer things anyway. I still log in every day to see what folks are sharing. I hit the react “button” more often than I comment but I still get a sense of staying connected. People rail about that false sense of engagement and I understand it. I don’t confuse that superficial level of interactions with real, meaningful connections. But we may be at a point where we can’t turn back. I’ve tried in the last month or so to text friends more often and it sometimes feels a bit like pulling teeth. It’s hard to say if that’s a sign of the times or just a sign that, as an introvert, I tend to be friends with introverts. And we’re not exactly known for our mad communication habits.

More than anything else, I appreciate the ability to stay connected to family in El Salvador. For that alone I can’t really contemplate shutting the account down. I could join the chorus and rail against the machine but for better or worse this is the medium that is easier for my extended family to use so here we are.

I have been thinking for a while now though that I probably need to get into the habit of not using Facebook/Twitter/Google as a shortcut to signing into other websites. If I’m taking anything away from all of this is that there is such as a thing as being too connected.

In conclusion, I wish people went back to blogging. And I miss dynamic blogrolls. My, how very 2003.

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Monday, March 19, 2018

Is this thing on?

I’m a procrastinator. I always have been. I probably always will be. I have no trouble remembering late nights sitting on the closet floor, furiously typing away trying to finish a paper that was due the following day, the brain feverishly jumping from one point to the other, the words falling in line. Why the closet, you ask? Well, that’s not really the point of this story but I’ll grant you that that’s a curious point to skip over. No real mystery, I’m sorry to say. When you share a room with your younger sibling and you don’t want to be a rude MFer by keeping that sibling up because you couldn’t do your homework at a reasonable hour, you type in the closet.

I said to my father once that I got my procrastinating habits from him. He denied it. He didn’t deny being a procrastinator himself. Just that, wait for it - he hadn’t gotten around to passing that on to me yet. I groaned and laughed, equal parts amused and annoyed that I’d set him up with such an easy joke.


I do better at work. I have to. Funny thing, if you don’t do what you’re asked and told at work, it sometimes can have a negative impact on pay day. And I like getting paid. On my personal time? Even when it’s something I say/think/feel I want? It’s still tough. And it’s still tough after several decades of knowing that the feeling I get when I’m in the zone, as good as that feeling may be, it doesn’t last. That rush of near genius doesn’t at all make up for the days, weeks of dread that I make myself feel. After I’m done doing whatever thing needs doing, there’s a sense of relief, a lightening of the load, and un-tensing of the shoulders but neither the relief nor the dread are enough to make me change my ways. Mind you, not everything gets pushed down the road. I also don’t want to give the impression that nothing ever gets done but usually the things that make me drag my feet are the things that also require mental and emotional effort. Which makes sense I suppose.

I finished recording the video that will be used in the parent profile for the adoption last week, after putting it off for a bit (we’re going to go with a bit because I don’t necessarily want to share how long I took. Not yet anyway). This past weekend was the first weekend in several where I didn’t go into it thinking, “I HAVE GOT to do this tomorrow.” And then Saturday went and Sunday went and I spent the week annoyed and anxious I hadn’t done it. So there was this feeling of endless possibility this weekend. Of relief. Mixed with sincere hope that what I put on the camera will convince someone that I will make a good mother to her child. But I don’t let myself think too much about that because that is what it is and either it works or it doesn’t.

So instead I went to the movies on Saturday and saw Love, Simon which was lovely and sweet. On the way home I saw a sign on a local library that announced another book sale. “Hmm,” I thought. Because I have all these books on my crowded bookshelves and because I’m on some kind of budget, buying books isn’t really a thing I do much of anymore.

But, a library book sale, that’s no trouble at all! I thought. Plus, because I don’t really buy books anymore and because I don’t read as fast as I used to, I also don’t have many books to donate these days. So, it’s a win-win-win I told myself. I get cheap books to read, which I can donate AND (yes, here’s the third win) if I walk the mile and a half to the library I get some serious steps in!

Because I’m a better excuse maker and justifier than mathematician I neglected to consider how much more work the 1.5 mile walk back would be while carrying a bag full of books. But anything worth having is worth sweating for a little bit is what I’m supposed to say here, I think.

With 50 looming around the bend I find myself marveling at the fact that 50 and me will soon be something that goes together. So I say to myself that I should probably start behaving like a grown up, even if I don’t always feel like one. Which is a funny thing to think since if you ask my mother she’ll tell you I’ve been 80 years old since I was born. I’ve long said that I’m layered like an onion so I shouldn’t find it so hard to feel both too young to be this old and too old to be this young.

While I ponder that, I’ll try to write more and also get through some of these books. 

 

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Wherever I go, there I am

There’s a reason I chose to focus my work around children and families. Were I a stronger and braver person I would have done what I said I would do - focus on child abuse prevention. But somewhere along the way, without consciously making a decision, I changed my mind. Perhaps because I know my limitations. Or maybe it’s just that, without an advanced degree doing direct work with such a vulnerable population didn’t seem advisable. Regardless, even working in the broader issues that impact children and families I still find myself. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now and it still surprises me to see myself in the work.

Not literally, obviously. That level of fame or infamy is not mine to attain but as I read today about the signs of eating disorders in young people, there I was. I read down the list, mentally adding check marks to the things that applied. I’m not a hypochondriac who imagines she has every symptom she reads about so I think I do a good job of being objective.

We all come at life’s experiences with baggage, don’t we? There may be people who say that baggage should be stowed in a deep locker at a train station, the key lost and the things forgotten. But I don’t know how to compartmentalize like that. I am who I am because of who I have been and who I was. That is neither a bad or good thing. it just is. Neutral until it can’t be. And so, I know my weaknesses, the fault lines. I sense the scars but don’t dwell on them. I recognize the limitations and try as much as I can to not let them bind me.

Still,

seeing the words. seeing the recommendations for how to address the risk factors. listening as the trainers go on about how to appropriately reach out to a young person in need

It makes me sad.

Not for the person I am today because as an adult, my choices, good or bad, my action or inactions are mine and mine alone.

But it makes me sad for the girl I used to be. The one who could have used someone quietly asking, “Are you okay?” but who never heard those words.

I am who I am because of who I was. And yet, in these moments I wonder, Who could I have been?

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Cloudy with a chance of 80s pop

My personal computer died several years ago.

Well, having typed that I feel the need to clarify. I might have had a slight role in the killing of said computer. It was a refurbished laptop that my brother had kindly gifted me due to the fact that my old old computer had decided it no longer wanted to do more than five minutes of work at a time. It booted up fine but after a couple of minutes the fan would kick on, give it the old valiant college try and then say, “Nah, girl. Your Facebooking isn’t worth this heat. Bye!”

So to the rescue my brother came. And that new old computer did the trick for a while. And while it was tricking (wait, what?) I would hear tell of this thing called the cloud. And articles and people would marvel about the flexibility and portability of the cloud! The cloud would solve all problems and I am certainly a fan of a problem-free life. But I also have this thing sometimes called procrastination. So I didn’t back up anything to the cloud. Besides, anything and everything I cared about (my photos and thousands and thousands of songs) was saved to my trusty external drive. Pfft. I’ll be fine, I figured.

You see where I’m going with this, yes? Of course you do because you’re smart. Smarter than me, definitely. So where were you when I most needed you?!? Hmm. That’s trouble of a different kind, no? Let’s move on.

One day I decided to upgrade the OS on this old new to me laptop and that’s when that laptop also said, “Nah, girl. Bye!” Except, perhaps knowing that the afterlife of any computer used by me (which means a drive full of badly Photoshopped images and messy CSS files) would be lonely, it decided to take with it, the external drive that I had neglected to disconnect prior to the upgrade. Really, when you think about it - it takes a special kind of skill to kill not just a computer but an external drive too.

I despaired for months over having lost thousands of mp3s collected over more than a decade. I’d say maybe a quarter of which I can recover if I take the time to rip my CDs, which thankfully I still have so that’s something but there’s other music that I’m just not going to be able to recover. Upon hearing my sad tale of musical woe, a friend tried to salvage the external drive and he ensured me he’d been successful. So for a year and some change I’ve been content with the knowledge that once I got a new computer I’d be able to pull my music back in and then do what I should have done ages ago, which is back it up to the cloud.

Sadly, so far the friend’s had no luck figuring out how to extract my music from his iTunes library. So close yet so far. You’d think that after almost 3 years of doing without my music library I’d not miss it anymore but I still feel a slight ache whenever I think of it all being gone. Granted, that’s probably due to the memories attached to many of those songs. Someone I cared for a lot ages ago helped me build that collection and that person and I are no longer in touch. And if we know anything about me, letting go of people I care about deeply isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.

Speaking of music, during the second adoption training class the group somehow got to talking about music and I made a joke about how my poor kid will grow up hearing 80s music and there was a collective groan. “Oh no,” someone said, “Don’t let that happen!”

So who knows. Maybe the loss of the music is the universe’s way of helping me to move on or sparing any poor child that I adopt from endless rounds of the Cover Girls or Expose’s greatest hits. Really, one shouldn’t question the Universe. It knows best.

3 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

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